Designer and Author Nicky Epstein was listed in the Vogue Knitting LIVE Chicago program as having a lecture entitled Knitting Around the World with Nicky Epstein, but her presentation was less about her book of the same title and more about someone who has knitted it all. Mary Taylor has knitted around the world and was on-hand to share her story with a group of eager listeners in the Chicago Room at the Palmer House Hilton.
Taylor was inspired by the idea behind the book "Julie and Julia," where a woman who felt in between identities decided to cook every single dish in Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." Taylor thought to herself that she could do the same thing with knitting, and blog about it as well. She decided on Nicky Epstein's book, Knitting On Top of the World, and figured it would take her four years to knit through all 52 designs in the book. Before she started, however, she sent Epstein herself an email, asking for her blessing. Epstein's response was, "How could I help?"
Epstein and Taylor began and cultivated a deep friendship from the project, which was evident through their sisterlike banter during the presentation. All 52 completed items were lined on tables in the lecture room for the audience to see and preview. On Saturday, during the Nicky and Mary On Top of the World fashion show from 3:30p.m. to 4:30p.m., several of Taylor's pieces will be auctioned off to the highest bidder. Taylor is a resident of the Twin Cities in Minnesota, and her area does not currently have a Gilda's Club for cancer patients to seek free counseling. "We are still $300,000 short of our goal," said Taylor. The money from the auction will go toward Gilda's Club Twin Cities so a center can open in that locale.
The slide for the Simply Smashing Cardigan came on the screen. "Ooh...go get that one," said Epstein to Taylor for probably the eighth time in the presentation. Taylor came back from the side of the room, wearing a blazer-shaped jacked with fair isle colorwork on the waistband, cuffs, and collar. "You know how, when you look through a knitting book and there is that one pattern that makes you buy it? That was this one for me; this was what made me choose this book," said Taylor.
After setting her goal of four years to complete every project in the book, Taylor actually completed all of the knits in just over three years. The best part, she says, was making friends with Epstein. "She even invited me to her house for a party she was having!" said Taylor. Epstein felt the same way about Taylor, stating that Taylor had one of the biggest hearts in the world.
Taylor is no slouch in the knitting department, either. As Epstein went through the slides of projects in her book, Taylor found the items on the tables and tried them on for the group, stating what troubles if any that she had while knitting the pieces. "I take the bus every day," says Taylor, "So it was fun with the regulars asking, 'Ooh...what are you making today?'" When trying on one Navajo-inspired piece for the group, Taylor stated, "I am auctioning this one but then I'll knit it again.
Taylor's passion is Gilda's Club. Challenging herself with knitting was a way to stretch her limits while doing good for her passion, and having the blessing of Epstein made it that much more worthwhile. If potential bidders are unable to attend the fashion show, Taylor can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and a donation can be made directly to Gilda's Club Twin Cities.
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